A life-saving clinic has been set up in the Democratic Republic of Congo thanks to a donation from Darlington Rotary.
Rotary gave £1,500 to the UK charity TeleEEG after hearing how diagnosing and treating epilepsy was non-existent in under-resourced parts of the world.
Now a telemedicine clinic – which refers to the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other – has been commissioned in the Katanga region of the country. It is the first such clinic funded by Rotary.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is often called ‘the poorest rich country in the world’ because rich resources are coupled with extreme poverty.
TeleEEG Trustee and Programme Manager, Charlotte Stow, who lives in Rokeby near Barnard Castle, visited Darlington Rotary to tell members about the rapidly expanding charity, which has 68 consultants in its virtual global team, supporting 37 clinics in 17 countries.
The charity was born in the north-east and set up by consultant Dr Steve Coates from Newcastle.
Since the first UK pilot in 2011 and the first TeleEEG clinic in 2012, the organisations went on to become a registered charity in 2016.
Charlotte said: “The generosity of Darlington Rotary has enabled us purchase EEG equipment and carry out training to help those suffering from epilepsy. Before this the nearest EEG machine was 2,000 kilometres away in Kinshasa.”
Charlotte pointed out that people with epilepsy in the DRC are shunned socially, and sometimes endure physical, psychological or sexual abuse at home or in the community
She added: “Now they can be diagnosed and treated quickly. The first clinic generated six cases and medical consultants in the UK, US and Egypt have provided much needed advice for diagnosis remotely.”
People with epilepsy in the DRC are shunned socially, and sometimes endure physical, psychological or sexual abuse at home or in the community.”
Chair of Darlington Rotary International Committee, Jane Bradshaw, said: “We were privileged to welcome Charlotte as an international speaker to our Club meeting last September.
‘Rotary helps people worldwide and after hearing about Charlotte’s work our club decided to make this donation.
“It’s wonderful to see how it has now been used in this very practical way. We all hope this will benefit many people for a long time to come.”